LONDON: Business Secretary Vince Cable has renewed the Liberal Democrats’ demands for higher taxes on big properties as the price for agreeing to Conservative plans for a freeze in some state benefits in April.
In negotiations between the coalition parties on George Osborne’s autumn statement next month, Nick Clegg is pushing for the creation of two new council tax bands on homes worth more than £1m, as the Independent revealed last September.
The chancellor is said to be open-minded but David Cameron is believed to be cautious about what has been dubbed a “backdoor mansion tax” which could alienate natural Tory voters.
Cable said on Sunday: “There needs to be a sense of fairness, and these best-off people in society have got to contribute more. Property can’t run off to Monaco and Liechtenstein. If you’re trying to deal with abuse of the tax system, this is the best way of doing it.”
Speaking on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Andrew Marr Show, Cable condemned as “completely unacceptable” the “systematic abuse” of the tax system by multinationals including Starbucks and Google, accused of using overseas bases to limit their UK tax bills. He said more action was needed at international level, and Britain had to “beef up” its capacity to tackle tax abuse. His comments came after executives from Starbucks, Google and Amazon were grilled by MPs, although the firms say they operate within the tax rules.
The executives were questioned earlier this month by the Public Accounts Committee about how they used favourable European tax jurisdictions for their UK businesses.
Starbucks, for example, has made a taxable profit only once in its 15 years of operating in the UK. As a consequence, the company is thought to have paid just £8.6 million in corporation tax over the period.